Social Media Safety and Security Awareness
Updated: Apr 4
Social Media Safety and Security Awareness
Cybercriminals love social media. Why? Well, it is no secret that social media applications are often the most used apps on our mobile devices and are undeniably among the most frequently visited websites on the internet.
Attackers know that most of us have and actively use at least one social media account. It doesn't matter to them whether our favourite platform is: Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Reddit. (and those are just some of the most popular ones).
For cybercriminals, each social media account symbolises a potential new victim to exploit. Their objective could be to gain access to private data, account credentials, or even a payday. But, don't call it quits and start deleting your apps just yet! It is possible to proactively defend against cyber attackers by applying social media safety and social media security awareness tips to your everyday use. This way you'll be able to really enjoy your time on social media safely and with peace of mind!
Safety Tips For Using Social Media Securely
Social networking is an undeniable aspect of staying connected with friends, family, and colleagues. However, as you scroll, like, post, and share, please keep in mind that there are some dangers to be aware of while using social media. (remember that not everyone online has good intentions) Here are a couple of social media safety and security precautions to be aware of before you share your personal information online.
1. Update your account privacy settings
Whether this is your first time making a new social media account or you're a seasoned SoMe pro, you should adjust your account privacy and security settings to your comfort level. Check back regularly to ensure that the privacy settings of your online accounts are still configured (to your preference). Doing this helps you to control how much information you share online and with whom you share it.
TIP! - If you find it challenging to begin or don't know where to find the privacy settings, you can check out this list of direct links to the settings of many popular websites.
2. Friends list check-ups & management
How well do you know your friends online? When was the last time that you went through and cleaned up your Facebook friends list or LinkedIn connections? Now is the perfect time to get started with more secure practices. Depending on how you've adjusted your privacy settings, once you make a new connection or accept a friend request, the odds are high that information you've kept hidden from the public will now be viewable by your "new friend". The recommendation is that you should always be selective when accepting new connections within any social networking platform. If you aren't sure that a connection/friend request is legitimate, it is best not to accept it. (The request could be a fake account, an attacker, or a bot).
TIP! - If you are trying to build your profile as a public persona (influencer, blogger, gamer, artist), consider keeping your public and private accounts separated. This way you'll be able to keep those close to you updated while limiting the personal information you share with the public. If you're still not convinced, you can try searching "what is a finsta?" to see how it works.
3. Be careful with things you share online
"Once something is posted online it never truly goes away". We've all heard it before. It's probably a good idea to think twice before posting photos, videos, and other media content that we wouldn't want our grandparents or employers to stumble across on the web. Aside from uncomfortable or embarrassing situations, we should also be mindful of the private personal information we share online. Personal information found online is often used by social engineers and cybercriminals to steal your identity, more of your sensitive data, your account credentials, and even your money. The less personal information you share online, the more difficult you make it for an attacker to be successful.
4. Use unique and strong passwords
Make sure you use a unique and strong password for each social media account you create. Strong passwords often contain no known words in any language, use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, and are longer than 12 characters. You can also consider making a passphrase, which may be easier for you to remember and more difficult for the attacker to guess or crack. Read more about how easily hackers can guess your password here.
5. Enable Multi-Factor Authentification
Enabling multi-factor authentification (MFA) gives your online accounts an additional line of defence against cyber attacks. This means that even if an attacker gets your login credentials correct (username and password), they'd still be trapped outside of your account. They would need additional verification to gain access -- multi-factor authentification usually verifies your identity sending push notifications, sms codes sent to your phone number, or a digital/physical code generator. The great thing is, this doesn't cost anything, and only takes a little bit of your time to get your accounts set up with MFA.
6. Think before you click the link
Be careful, and think before you click on links, photos, or attachments online. Clicking a link to "win a coupon to your favourite store" may seem harmless, and in many cases is harmless. However, phishing attacks are common on social media. Hiding malicious links in tweets, stories and posts on social media is a common tactic that cybercriminals utilise to get ahold of your sensitive information. So the next time that someone sends you a video or message containing a link, think carefully before you click, and if you are unsure, don't click. Learn more about how to avoid falling for phishing here.
7. Don't be afraid to report
Whether you are facing cyberbullying, phishing, unauthorised login attempts, fake contests, false coupons, or another social engineering threat, you can help others stay safe from social media threats by reporting the incident to the site administrator. For cyberbullying, it's recommended to remove the user(s) from your network, block, and report the behaviour.
Go Now And Use Your Favourite Social Media Sites Safely
Social media sites offer a vast world of digital connections and allow us access to more global information and media than we can possibly consume. Through access to social media, the ability to be in communication with friends, and family from all across the globe within seconds is truly remarkable! We shouldn't fear using social networking platforms, so long as we keep the tips above in mind. Feel free to share this with your connections to spread awareness about how to keep your social media accounts more secure from cybercriminals, and threats online.
Want to keep reading? Learn more about why security awareness is important here or discover how to begin developing a security culture here!